BOSTON – One of the many things that makes Giannis Antetokounmpo such a special talent, is how he can grab a rebound and initiate a fast break all by his lonesome.
It was easy for the Milwaukee Bucks to defer to him, because there was no one on their roster whose talents thrived in transition as much as the Greek Freak’s … until Eric Bledsoe arrived via trade.
And with Bledsoe in the fold, Milwaukee has become a much tougher team to defend because when it comes to initiating the offense, you really have no idea whether it’ll be Antetokounmpo or Bledsoe.
“Whoever gets the rebound, brings it up,” Bledsoe said “Coach (Jason) Kidd draws up plays in time-outs. Who handle it, who doesn’t.”
The addition of Bledsoe has indeed made the Bucks a deeper, more athletic and versatile team in the backcourt. But his arrival has also meant Malcolm Brogdon, the league’s Rookie of the Year last season, returning to coming off the bench.
Bledsoe said there hasn’t been any kind of sit-down conversation between him and Brogdon.
“At the same time, I’m not trying to take his spot or show, “I’m better,” Bledsoe said. “It’s a team thing. We need him as much as everybody needs each other. He’s one of the biggest pieces to this thing. What he brings to the game, I can’t bring. He comes off the bench, he plays … some of these games we’ve won, he’s played great in. So we definitely need him.”
Bucks head coach Jason Kidd echoed similar sentiments.
“Malcolm came off the bench for us last year at some parts of the season,” Kidd said. “Just understanding that he’s a true pro. Finishing games is what it’s all about, understanding your best five are on the floor at the end. And so, understanding he’s going to be on the floor a lot of times at the end of ball games. The only thing that’s changed is he doesn’t hear his name announced at the beginning of games.”
Added Bledsoe: “It’s all about one goal and that’s winning a championship. It’s not about, ‘oh he took my spot’ or ‘he’s better than me’ or ‘how much he get paid, how much I get paid.’ It’s about one thing and that’s winning; winning solves everything.”
Here are five under-the-radar story lines heading into tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks.
After beginning his career with the Los Angeles Clippers and moving on to the Phoenix Suns, Eric Bledsoe might need to brush up on his winter wardrobe, right?
“I had plenty of (winter coats),” Bledsoe said. “But I could never use them in Phoenix. Now I can put them to use. I had a lot of dust on them so I can blow the dust off them now.”
AWESOME AL HORFORD
Some of the best work offensively we’ve seen from Al Horford this season has come against the Milwaukee Bucks. This season, he’s averaging 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. The 20.0 points are Horford’s highest average this season against a team the Celtics have played more than once.
He may be in and out of the starting lineup, but Baynes continues to be a steady, impactful force when he’s on the floor for the Celtics. His defensive rating of 91.2 is tops among all players in the league while limiting opponents to shooting just 43 percent from the field against him.
BUCKS FIRE AWAY
Milwaukee gets a lot of praise for its roster that’s filled with long-armed scorers. But what’s often overlooked is the Bucks shooting this season. Milwaukee comes into tonight’s game shooting 48.0 percent from the field which ranks third in the NBA this season.
The Celtics have had a rough go of it late when it comes to rebounding. But the Bucks just may be the elixir they need to cure whatever has gone wrong with them on the boards. Milwaukee has a rebounding percentage of 47.2 which ranks 29th (out of 30 teams) in the NBA this season. Meanwhile, the Celtics have shown some slippage of late when it comes to rebounding, but they still respectable rebounding percentage of .513 which ranks ninth in the NBA.
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